By Margaret Bayne, OSU Extension Staff-retired, OSU Master Gardener

February 2019

Listen to a podcast about the history of angiosperms (flowering plants) with Dr. Nan Crystal Arens from Hobart and William Smith Colleges.  “Her work on angiosperms of the early Cretaceous has given us insights into the evolutionary pressures that may have led to the evolution of flowering plants as well as how these early angiosperms made their living in a landscape already vegetated by a preponderance of gymnosperms.” (

Young Beech, winter branches. Emma Tutein University of New Hampshire Extension

How branches, bark and buds help you ID trees and shrubs. “Winter seems like a lousy time to identify trees and shrubs. Without leaves to look at, things definitely get a little difficult, but with a few tricks, and maybe a good book in hand, you can up your botany game and learn to identify trees and shrubs without leaves!” (Emma Tutein, U of NH)

Watch scientists train bees to play with tiny soccer balls!  “The study shows that bees can adapt to really weird circumstances… Here’s the buzz: bees are brilliant. And not just because they are a vital part of our ecosystem. Bees are also very clever—and apparently capable of learning one of the basic fundamentals of football.” (Mary Beth Griggs,

Check out these beautiful botanical drawings.  “Over 100 years ago, the US Government commissioned 7,500 watercolor paintings of every kind of fruit in the Country.” (Chloe Olewitz,

Beech trees are dying, and nobody’s sure why.Intense effort underway to find culprit behind rapid disease spread.” Misti Crane, Ohio State U)

It takes a mosquito to fight a mosquito. “In Australia, China and elsewhere, scientists are fighting disease-carrying mosquitoes by introducing another type, carrying just a harmless form of bacteria.” (Tina Rosenberg,

New plant discovery at Longwood Gardens– Cyrtosia (syn. Galeolaseptentrionalis, “…It’s considered impossible to cultivate and has never previously been found in the United States. So what makes Cyrtosia so special—and how did it come to be at Longwood?”

Watch a forest appear to breath when hit by strong winds!  “When a forest in Quebec was hit with heavy winds, the forest floor began to undulate as if it were breathing. This incredible phenomenon happens during storms when the soil is saturated and loosens from the tree’s roots.” (

Early Thanksgiving counts show a critically low Monarch population in California.The California overwintering population has been reduced to less than 0.5% of its historical size, and has declined by 86% compared to 2017.” (

Dry conditions may have helped a new type of plant gain a foothold on Earth. Plants reap energy from the sun using two photosynthesis pathways, C3 and C4. A new study suggests that water availability drove the expansion of C4 species, which may help to explain how different plant lineages came to be distributed on the planet today.” (U of Pennsylvania via

New research has discovered how plant roots sense the availability of moisture in soil and then adapt their shape to optimize acquisition of water.  “The discovery could enable crops to be bred which are more adaptive to changes in climate conditions, such as water scarcity, and help ensure food security in the future.” (U of Nottingham via

So many Shot Hole Borers: New research charts four nearly identical species. (Jiri Hulcr, Ph.D., and Jackson Landers,

Antennal sensors allow hawkmoths to make quick moves.   All insects use vision to control their position in the air when they fly, but they also integrate information from other senses. Biologists at Lund University have now shown how hawkmoths use mechanosensors in their antennae to control fast flight maneuvers.” (Lund University via

52 million tree stories more accessible to science. “The world’s primary archive of tree ring data, which holds more than 52 million cost-free records spanning 8,000 years of history, has gotten a makeover by scientists from four countries committed to making science more accessible.” (Harvard U via

Planting hedges along roads may keep us all healthier -Field investigations for evaluating green infrastructure effects on air quality in open-road conditions.(K.V.Abhijith & Prashant Kumar,

How do I care for an amaryllis after it is finished blooming? (Richard Jauron, Willy Klein, Iowa State U)

Scientists have ‘hacked Photosynthesis’ in search of more productive crops.(Dan Charles,

Did you know spiders can fly hundreds of miles using electricity?  “Scientists are finally starting to understand the centuries-old mystery of “ballooning.” (Ed Young,

The founder of the Boy Scouts hid maps in insect drawings.  Can you find the secrets in these bug illustrations? (Jack Goodman,

Crab spiders and Pitcher plants: a dynamic duo! (

Life-Long Radar Tracking of Bumblebees.   “Insect pollinators such as bumblebees play a vital role in many ecosystems, so it is important to understand their foraging movements on a landscape scale…used harmonic radar to record the natural foraging behavior of Bombus terrestris audax workers over their entire foraging career.” (Joseph L. Woodgate, et al,

Tree wound. Jay Pscheidt, OSU, Pacific NW Disease Management Handbook

Tree Wound Paints.  “Paints have been used over the years to try to protect tree wounds from invasion by microorganisms and to promote healing. With a few exceptions, paints are not widely recommended for this use.” (Jay Pschdeit, OSU PNW Disease Handbook)

What do spiders do in winter? Yes, they are out there! (Richard Bradley,

Watch the beautiful video: Botanical Animation- Story of Flowers. (AMMK designs via

What makes a tree a tree?  Despite numerous studies and 30-plus genomes under their belts, scientists are still struggling to nail down the defining traits of these tall, long-lived, woody plants (Rachel Ehrenberg,

The secret life of plants: Ten new species found this year. (Helen Briggs,

Is habitat restoration actually killing plants in the California wildlands? (Kara Manke,

Wow!  Watch this amazing video of the harvesting of olives. (Réceptacle automatique,

Back to the land: are young farmers the new starving artists?  “A small but growing movement of millennials are seeking out a more agrarian life but the reality of life on the land is not always as simple as they hoped.” (Lucia Graves,

Did you get a Poinsettia for Christmas? Watch the video and find out how to keep it alive!(Utah State)

Scientists discover secret to how plants branch to locate water– “…plant roots branch to find water which could help increase food security.” (Jessica Miley,

Researchers develop a new houseplant that can clean your home’s air. “Researchers have genetically modified a common houseplant to remove chloroform and benzene from the air around it.”(University of Washington,

An introduction to Hornworts.  “When was the last time you thought about hornworts?  Have you ever thought about hornworts?  If you answered no, you aren’t alone.” (

Why taxonomic preparedness is critical for invasive species response“Responding to invasive insects is a three-fold endeavor, involving detection or interception, accurate and fast identification (i.e., taxonomy), and thorough ecological investigations.”  Researchers “…recount the taxonomic work that sprang into action to investigate natural enemies of the brown marmorated stink bug (Halyomorpha halys) after its arrival in North America in the late 1990s, as an example of how taxonomic preparedness is critical to the success of biological control efforts to respond to invasive species.” (Matthew L. Buffington, Ph.D., et al;

One of nature’s smallest flowering plants can survive inside of a duck.  “If one duckweed lands where a bird relieves itself, it’s capable of eventually creating a dense mat of duckweeds where there were none before.” (Veronique Greenwood,

Plants don’t like to be touched.  “The findings… could lead to new approaches to optimizing plant growth and productivity –  from field-based farming to intensive horticulture production. (La Trobe University)

Why doesn’t my Holly have berries?  Lack of berries on Holly is a common concern for homeowners. (Silloo Kapadia, MG; Penn State U)

This is a shame!  The decline of insect representation in biology textbooks over time. (Kiran Gangwani & Jennifer Landin; Academic Entomologist, Oxford Academy)

How insects survive winter. (Jessica Wong, Colorado State U)

Slugs feasting on lettuce. Robin Rosetta, OSU

Researcher identifies new weapons against slugs.  “Essential oils from thyme and spearmint are proving lethal to crop-damaging slugs without the toxicity to humans, animals or the environment that chemical solutions can presentMcDonnell was hired by OSU in 2016 after Oregon farmers told the university’s leaders that more research was needed to fight slugs, which have become increasingly destructive in recent years.”(Mateusz Perkowsk,

Hospital Garden Eases Nurse Burnout. (Shelaghsblog, garden

Is organic food worse for the climate than non-organic food?  “If you eat organic food in the belief that you’re helping the planet, this study suggests you might be doing more harm than good.  International researchers from Chalmers University of Technology looked at the impact of organic and conventional food production on the climate.” (

How close-up glamour shots are generating buzz for bees.  “The pictures were taken for science, but found a wider audience because they’re gorgeous and a little trippy.” (Jessica Leigh Hester,

The pickle is in trouble! Scientists are fighting for the stricken pickle against this tricky disease. (Carolyn Beans,

Plants’ defense against insects is a bouquet.A research study… sheds light on how blend of chemicals strengthens plants’ defense against insect pests.” (Joy Landis, Michigan State U)defense against insect pests.

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